New dual-degree program aims to prepare superstars in the business of life sciences
Bringing the next wonder drug to market will take more than scientific genius. Currently, the average cost of developing a pharmaceutical is $2.6 billion. At Berkeley, the new Biology+Business dual-major program aims to provide interdisciplinary solutions to 21st century challenges.
The program, a joint venture between the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology and Haas, is providing 30 (eventually 90) undergraduates with mentoring and coaching, internship opportunities, and an integrated curriculum to develop innovative leadership skills in bio business. It is just the second such program in the country.
For twins Gail Maderis, BS 78, and Ann Stock Zakaria, BA 79 (biochemistry), PhD 86 (comparative biochemistry), making generous founding gifts to Biology+Business goes beyond familial love for their alma mater. Maderis, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Antiva Biosciences, a venture-backed biopharmaceutical company, and Zakaria, a biochemistry and molecular biology professor at Rutgers Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, see the necessity in merging scientific inquiry and commercialization.
“This program will provide Cal students with the fundamental knowledge to change patient lives,” says Maderis. “Having a baseline of understanding of business and science creates a much more well-rounded employee who can move fluidly between the disciplines.”
Zakaria says the program is crucial for preparing students to enter professional life. “While the academic labs are a very rich environment for innovation and the generation of ideas, it’s hard to bring those things to a marketable point—or even to a point where large pharma would be interested in them—without biotechnology and venture enterprise coming in,” she says.